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latest news The Buffalo Shooting and California’s “Great Replacement” Theory

It started in California and it hasn’t stopped yet.

On Saturday, a heavily armed 18-year-old white man walked into a supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo, NY. He was wearing military fatigues and a bulletproof vest, and a camera strapped to his head in hopes to broadcast his every move live.

He parked his vehicle and then opened fire.

“This is the worst nightmare any community can face,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Saturday, “and we’re hurting and bubbling right now.”

Like the mayor, most of the victims were black. Authorities say Payton Gendron of Conklin, NY, killed at least 10 people and injured three others, some running errands, others working at Tops Friendly Market.

Maddeningly, such violence can and does happen anywhere in America these days.

But it’s the explanation for white supremacy this time around, uncovered in a manifesto authorities say Gendron uploaded, that should be all too familiar to Californians.

He is a supporter of the so-called “great replacement” theory. Authorities say Gendron felt compelled to travel about 200 miles to indiscriminately shoot innocent black people with a high-powered rifle because white Americans are “replaced” with people of color.

In many ways, this really ugly conspiracy theory has roots right here in the Golden State of the 1990s.

That’s when Republicans, desperate to retain political power, were sowing fear and paranoia about millions of Mexican immigrants who wanted – how dare they! — resources and rights, and the inevitable decline of the white population of the state.

These are the formative years of Stephen Miller, the Santa Monica native who grew up to become President Trump’s loathsome, immigrant-hating senior adviser.

Of course, the true origin of the “great replacement” theory is much older and inextricably linked to anti-Semitism, as white supremacists blame Jews for non-white immigration. Thus, the slogans “Jews will not replace us” and “You will not replace us” with racists with tiki torches the night before the Unite the Right rally in Virginia in 2017.

The version of the theory now circulating posits not only that America is diversifying, which is absolutely true, but that a secret cabal of elite Democrats is conspiring to bring in immigrants in any way possible to “replace” white Christians. people and reshaping American politics into a kind of secular, multicultural liberal image. Like California.

Never mind that Latino voters often sway conservatives, as we saw in the 2020 presidential election, when Trump secured a larger share of the electorate from that demographic than he did. in 2016.

It never stops.

“Diversity is not a strength”, writes Gendron, according to excerpts from the manifesto which authorities say it has uploaded and is now floating online. “Unity, purpose, trust, traditions, nationalism and racial nationalism are what give strength.”

We now know from that manifesto that Gendron traveled about 200 miles from his home to that supermarket in Buffalo because it was in a neighborhood with lots of black people, authorities said.

Along with racist and anti-immigrant rants, the manifesto explained how he planned to kill as many black people as possible, authorities said. That he would shoot the security guard near the entrance before shooting the black shoppers. That he had studied the map and knew every aisle. What he would eat for lunch.

The FBI is investigating what happened as a “hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism”. Erie County Sheriff John Garcia called the motive for the mass shooting “pure evil.”

It is also a widespread white supremacist ideology that has gone mainstream.

Late last year, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that about a third of American adults believe an effort is underway to “replace” Americans born in the States. United by immigrants.

In addition, about 3 in 10 believe that further immigration will cause ethnic, presumably white Americans to lose economic, political and cultural influence.

Not surprisingly, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to share these views, according to the poll. One reason is that irresponsible conservative pundits continue to tout the “great replacement” theory as the explanation for everything from the loss of manufacturing jobs in the Midwest to a spike in overdose deaths among white people addicted to painkillers.

As Tucker Carlson said on Fox News last April: “I know the left and all the little Twitter gatekeepers literally go hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the electorate now, voters voting now, along with new people, more obedient Third World voters, but they’re going hysterical because that’s what’s actually happening.

It’s a lie, it’s ridiculous and it’s dangerous, especially in the age of social media. And yet, it never stops, even here.

As usual, California was the first – in this case, the first forced state – to deal with these new population displacements. The political rhetoric and paranoia around a supposed “replacement” has been the backlash to this diversity and the accompanying push for inclusiveness.

Many thought we had passed it.

Now, decades later, as the rest of the country has started to look more like California, it’s abundantly clear that’s not the case.

You don’t even have to go to Buffalo. Just drive to the Sierra foothills of Placer and El Dorado counties, and you’ll hear longtime white residents worrying about “liberals” — aka people of color — in the Bay Area. San Francisco who move in to “replace” them.

On Saturday, the Reverend Al Sharpton urged the White House to hold a meeting with black, Jewish and Asian American leaders “to highlight the fact that the federal government [is] stepping up its efforts against hate crimes.

President Biden said the nation “must do everything in its power to end domestic terrorism fueled by hate” and called for a full investigation.

“A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation,” Biden insisted, against all logic, reason and recorded history.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson said “hate and racism have no place in America.”

Only time will tell if any of these statements will amount to more than the usual “thoughts and prayers”.

What is clear is that we cannot continue to treat acts of white supremacy as one-off crimes committed by supposed lone wolves with mental health issues. Nor can we continue to give a free pass to conservative pundits and Republican politicians who directly or indirectly promote adherence to the “great replacement” theory or any other principle of racism or extremism.

We have seen what happens when we allow such things to happen. We saw it in California in the 1990s and echoes of it remain here today.

A Buffalo City Council member on Saturday described the supermarket where so many were killed as along a “historic street for African Americans,” in a tight-knit community a few miles from downtown.

I have been to many Tops friendly markets in my life. The chain, which dotted the street corners of my native Cleveland, was almost always filled with black shoppers living their lives worried about replacing milk in their refrigerators, not people.

“The depth of pain that the families feel,” Mayor Brown said, “and that we are all feeling right now cannot even be explained.”

Stop that.

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